The Equality Ministry has appointed former One TV reporter Simone Cini as the new commissioner for gender-based and domestic violence.

Ms Cini, now a presenter, admitted her only exposure to these issues was when she had reported on them for Super One.

She was appointed last month. She said she received a call to become the new commissioner “some time ago” and was now attending seminars and speaking to stakeholders to learn more about the subject.

 “The call was unexpected, but I have always been passionate about the topic,” she said.

I built a reputation of loving the subject in the media

Former commissioner Joe Gerada resigned in July.

Ms Cini started out as a One news reporter in the early 90s. Her show, Ieqaf 20 minuta, has been broadcast on the Labour-owned TV station for over 12 years. She now works in private media in her freelance capacity. “I am not employed by the government anywhere,” she said.

Asked about her experience working with women who have suffered domestic violence, Ms Cini said she had always been assigned social issues as a reporter, such as domestic violence and bullying, because people “knew I was passionate about the topic”. She said her role came because “over the years, I built a reputation of loving the subject in the media”.

Asked how her experience could help fight domestic violence, she said women “would feel more comfortable coming forward because they recognise me”.

The government’s efforts to combat domestic violence have been in the spotlight after a number of women were murdered, allegedly by a family member or partner.

Ms Cini insisted a “culture change” was needed. However, she could not talk about policy yet since it was too soon after her appointment. She pointed towards a culture of victim blaming, saying parents should be the first to address sexism and gender-based violence.

READ: For domestic violence victims, even police stations are no safe haven

Ms Cini believes educational campaigns are key to addressing the issues and wants the commission to work on them.

Further training of various stakeholders, particularly in court, was also needed. “When we think of the court, we think of men who are set in their ways, with wives who have always stayed at home. We might look up to the judiciary, but they need to be trained in dealing with these cases.”

"I would like to see politicians from all parties unite on the issue," she said, adding she had already received encouragement from both sides of the House.

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